Special to The Bedford Citizen
For Bedford residents or small businesses that already are interested in – or want to learn more about — purchasing or leasing solar photovoltaic systems at lower-than-market prices, the next step in Bedford’s program with Solarize Mass is to meet the installer.
Astrum Solar was recently selected by a group of Bedford and Lexington residents and municipal representatives to be the official solar installer for the Bedford-Lexington Solarize Mass program. Bedford, in partnership with Lexington, received a grant from the Mass Clean Energy Center and the Mass Department of Energy Resources that enables the two communities to promote solar electric (photovoltaic or “PV”) installations through a grassroots educational campaign. Residents and small businesses in the Bedford and Lexington are eligible to sign up, and a tiered pricing structure increases the savings for everyone as more homes and businesses join the program.
Two “meet the installer” events have been planned. The first will be held on Monday, Feb. 24 from 7-9 pm at the Cary Memorial Building, 1605 Mass Ave in Lexington (next to the Lexington Town Hall). The second installer meeting will be held on Thursday, March 6 from 7-9 pm in the auditorium of Bedford Town Hall, 10 Mudge Way.
According to Bedford’s “solar coach,” Dave Enos of Hillside ave., these meetings will provide two public opportunities for Bedford and Lexington residents and businesses to meet representatives of Astrum Solar and to participate in discussions about the economic and environmental benefits of installing solar systems, the federal and state incentives that make choosing solar advantageous, and the Solarize Mass program that provides significant discounts from group purchasing.
Solar Coach Enos is working with Bedford’s Recycling Coordinator, Gretchen Carey, to identify Bedford residents and businesses interesting in solar installations.
According to Enos, the advantage of working with Astrum Solar is that this installer has been vetted by the state. While other solar companies are taking advantage of the publicity generated by the Solarize Mass program, by making phone calls and going door-to-door to solicit Bedford customers, Enos said that “Having a vetted installer should provide a greater level of trust and assurance to those signing up.”
Enos noted that, besides attending a Meet-the-Installer event, a Bedford resident or business owner can determine whether his residence/business will accommodate a solar system by bringing an Astrum Solar representative to the house or business. Using equipment designed to determine whether the home or business gets enough sunlight to make solar installations advantageous, Astrum’s crew will take the necessary measurements. If the results indicate a better-than 80% opportunity for collecting solar energy, the homeowner will be eligible for a State rebate ranging from $1,000-$4,000, Enos said. If not, the installation price is still very competitive, he added.
There also may be an opportunity for residents and small businesses whose roofs do not get enough sunlight to install solar panels on a rack positioned in the backyard, slightly above ground-level.
Solarize Mass is now in its third year of providing grants to municipalities, in a successful effort to promote solar energy. To date, over 900 residents and business owners have signed contracts for small-scale solar electricity systems.
Each participating community selects a designated solar installation company, which offers five tiers of pricing, with the savings increasing for everyone as more contracts are signed. Home and business owners who want to participate can either purchase the solar electricity systems directly or enter into a lease or power purchase agreement (PPA) with the installer. Under a lease or PPA, the installer will own, operate and maintain the system, while the home or business owner agrees to purchase the power generated by the system at an agreed-upon rate.
Astrum Solar, whose Massachusetts operations are based in Hopkinton, is a Maryland company with satellite sales offices in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Astrum was chosen by local residents in Concord, Lenox, Lincoln, Palmer, Pittsfield, Sudbury and Wayland as the state-vetted installer for each of those communities’ Solarize Mass program.